With nationals just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to highlight some matches we have not seen this season. The following are five matchups that many fans are hoping to see at Nationals. There have been plenty of fantastic ones this season with lots of out of region travel, but there are still more we would love to see.
MSU vs. JMU
After a thrilling overtime match in the semi-finals last year, who wouldn’t want to see these teams battle again? Michigan State returns nearly the same roster that beat JMU in overtime last year, including all 6 overtime players from that match. James Madison did lose some players to graduation, but they are still led by 2022 MVP Evan Eschenburg and have plenty of underrated talent. The Spartans and Dukes both have some of the hardest throwers in the league along with great catching ability. Prepare for a ton of highlights if these teams pair up. Both teams look poised for a deep run on Sunday at Nationals, so if they don’t get paired up on Saturday, there’s a good chance they’ll meet each other late on Sunday (perhaps another semi-final match?).
OSU vs. PSU
Big 10 football rivals become dodgeball rivals? Ohio State and Penn State have been waiting to play each other all year but they haven’t been matched up yet. Both teams made quarter-final runs at nationals last year and both would be disappointed if that’s all they did this year.
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are both on fire heading into Nationals. Ohio State is 10-2 in the spring semester, while Penn State is 5-1 this semester with wins over JMU and GVSU. These teams look poised to meet up at some point at Nationals. If they do, it’ll be a high intensity and high level match, perhaps determining a Final 4 spot.
Ohio vs. UNL
Unlike the matchup above, both Ohio and UNL have played below their expectations in the spring semester. Ohio is 5-4 this semester and UNL went 0-3 at WAR. Both teams still hold high expectations for themself and will be looking to make a deep run at nationals.
Last year, these teams met in the round of 16, with Ohio winning a close game. With the way the standings are now, it is very possible they will meet again in the first round. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments each team makes before Nationals.
Akron vs. GVSU
Akron has been impressive against teams outside of the Ohio region, including wins over JMU and PSU. People around the league are wondering if they have what it takes to beat perennial powerhouse Grand Valley. GVSU has looked vulnerable for perhaps the first time in league history. They have a very young roster that has been improving all year. The Lakers did hold a 2-0 lead over MSU at MDC but let the lead slip away, showing their improvements.
Both teams will be looking to secure a spot in the final 4. This matchup would be great for Day 1 but perhaps they will meet up in the 2nd or 3rd round of the bracket on Day 2.
CUW vs. UIUC
Who doesn’t love league expansion? This year we have two brand new teams. A match between these two would be great to see the progress each team has made in their early stages and have one team secure their first victory.
Both clubs have done a fantastic job forming their teams and being able to play competitively all within their first year. It’s always great to see new teams form and it’d be perfect if these two teams got the chance to play each other. These teams are also only separated by a 3.5 hour drive so perhaps it’ll be the first of many matchups. We just found out that UIUC will not be attending Nationals but it would still be a fantastic match to see next year after UIUC looked amazing in their first tournament.